When we open our email, aside from our bills, the last thing we want to see is spam. That’s why we’re here to help you identify spam and get rid of it for good. While spam filters are much more effective today than they used to be, spammers sometimes find ways around them. With just a little sleuthing on your part, you can get the information you need to put a stop to spam.
What is spam? Spam is unsolicited emails sent to your inbox, originating from businesses or individuals you don’t recognize or have never done business with. Phishing emails, when a spammer impersonates a business to obtain personal or account information, are also considered spam. Some spam may also include links to download malware and viruses that may harm your computer or steal your personal information.
What’s not spam? Any product or service you’ve done business with is not spamming you when they send you an email. For instance, if you are an Amazon customer, receiving emails from Amazon isn’t considered spam. Usually you can get these businesses to stop emailing you by following instructions included in most emails or contacting their customer support.
How to Put a Stop to Spam
You’ve identified that you are receiving legitimate spam and you want to stop it. Getting rid of spam is a matter of reporting the activity to the service providers the spammers are using to send emails and to maintain the domain names they’re advertising.
The first step in preparing these reports is figuring out who to report the spam to. At eNom, we actively deactivate domains and accounts that produce spam on our platform, but we can’t stop spammers that aren’t using our services. That’s why it’s important to find the right contact information to put an end to spam.
Getting the Email Headers
To identify who to report spam emails to, you’ll need to find the service provider the spammer used to send the emails. This information is recorded in the email headers. Email headers are at the beginning of every email and serve as a sort of log that helps email services properly sort and deliver messages.
Obtaining the email headers varies from one email service to the next. A pretty comprehensive list of instructions can be found at SpamCop’s website.
Reading Email Headers
The email headers are full of technical details and gibberish that can be more than a little confusing. The only piece of information we’re interested in is the server that the spammer used to send the email to you.
From the bottom of the headers, work your way up until you see a line beginning with Received: from. You want to record the IP address. This is a computer’s unique ID number on the Internet and notes where the email was originated. The IP address should look something like this: 192.168.0.1. In other words, four numbers of up to three digits separated by periods.
Tracking Down the Internet Service Provider
Now that you have the originating computer’s IP address, you can find out what Internet service provider you need to report the spam to. Like the phonebook, there is a directory that links each IP address with the service that the IP address is assigned to.
One of the most reliables services to lookup this information is ARIN, the custodian of IP addresses in America. Don’t worry, their search works for IP addresses from any country. You can also use any of the dozens of other sites that offer this service.
The results should provide you with contact information for the service provider responsible for that IP address. Make sure to write this down for when you submit your report.
Accessing Domain Registration Records
Another avenue for combatting spam is reporting the domain names spammers are advertising in their emails. Oftentimes, domain registrars can disable the domains spammers are using.
To find out what domain registrar administers a particular domain name, you need to search the WHOIS database. Similar to the IP address WHOIS directory, domain WHOIS is a centralized public database containing registration records for domain names.
There are a number of services for looking up WHOIS records, including eNom’s free WHOIS search. In the search box, simply type the domain name (ex: enom.com) included in the spam email. Find the registrar in the search results. That’s the business you need to report the spam to.
Why not look up the domain the email came from?
It may seem logical to search for the domain the email was sent from. Unfortunately, because email protocols were designed decades ago before spam was around, it’s easy to fake the domain name an email was sent from.
Submitting Your Report
Now that you’ve learned all you can about the domain the spammer was trying to send you to and the service the spammer used to send their emails, you’re ready to submit a spam report.
Locate the domain registrar’s website. Most will have a link somewhere for reporting spam or abuse. Follow their procedures and make sure to include the spammer’s domain name in your report. Here’s a link to eNom’s abuse resource center. Remember, eNom can only help with domain names registered at eNom.
Next, look up the Internet service provider that you traced the spam email to. Like domain registrars, they should have a spam reporting page and procedures you need to follow to report the spam. They may ask you for the email headers or the spam email itself.
What if the spam doesn’t stop?
After following these steps, you should see a reduction in the amount of spam you receive. However, some spammers are tenacious and might resume their activities with a new domain name or Internet service provider. In those cases, keep reporting them and they’ll eventually stop.
Don’t let your website become a spam target
Spammers often target websites with inadequate security and malware protection. By infecting these sites with malware and exploiting their security weaknesses, spammers can more easily impersonate your business and use your website to spread malware and viruses to your customers.
Without the proper protection, you can find your website blocked by search engines and irreparable damage done to your brand. While there are many services to protect you from these threats, eNom has some of the best security solutions available today. Check out our website security center to learn more.
eNom’s domain abuse resources
ARIN.net IP address lookup
eNom’s domain WHOIS lookup tool
Instructions for finding email headers in popular email services
eNom’s website security center